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Statues of the Buddha, Polonnaruwa (Ceylon). 12 February 1868

Statues of the Buddha, Polonnaruwa (Ceylon). 12 February 1868

Artist: Leighton, Stanley (1837-1901)

Medium: Pencil on paper

Date: 1868

Shelfmark: WD261

Item number: 261

Length: 11.5

Width: 24.4

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Drawing

Pencil drawing of the statues of the Buddha at the Gal Vihara rock shrine in Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka by Stanley Leighton (1837-1901), dated 12th February 1868. The image is inscribed on the front of the picture and mount in pencil; 'Gal-wihara. Toparè. Figures of Buddha cut out of the natural rock, 12 Feb. 1868 from a sketch by Louis Buxton.'

Polonnaruwa became an important Sinhalese kingdom in the 11th century when King Vijayabahu I drove the Cholas from India off the island. By the 13th century the island was again overrun by Indian invasions and the city was abandoned leaving an area full of ruined buildings, parks and a 2400 hectare tank, the 'Sea of Parakrama.' The large images of the Buddha seen in this drawing were built during the same reign as the tank, under King Parakramabahu I who ruled in the mid-12th century. The four statues at this site are all cut from a single block of granite; the largest shows Buddha reclining (14 metres long) as he is about to reach Nirvana. There is a statue of the figure standing (7 metres high) and two of the Buddha seated, only one of which is depicted in this drawing.

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